Three suspected MS13 gang members were arrested during a series of raids in the San Fernando Valley and the city and county of Los Angeles, authorities said this morning.
The raids were carried out early Wednesday morning and targeted the gang as part of an ongoing investigation into the murder of Bradley Hanaway, a 34-year-old homeless man who was accosted and shot to death as he slept at the Valley Plaza Recreation Center in North Hollywood, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The gang is also believed to be responsible for at least five other violent assaults in the area of the recreation center shortly after Hanaway's slaying, police said.
Several additional suspects are outstanding. However, “we expect to have them in custody in the coming days, and do not believe there is an immediate threat to the community,'' the LAPD said in a statement.
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Investigators seized weapons, ammunition, electronic media and gang paraphernalia from approximately 10 locations raided, the LAPD said.
“Over the past year, tagging and other evidence of MS13's presence has been observed at multiple locations throughout the Valley,'' the statement said. “Officials believe the gang is attempting to establish a foothold by directly challenging rival gangs in the area.''
Investigators said Hanaway's slaying by members of MS13 was motivated by the gang's attempt to take over the area in and around the Valley Plaza Recreation Center.
“This... operation not only assisted investigators in the furtherance of their investigation, but also sent a message to MS13 that their criminal presence will not be tolerated in the San Fernando Valley or anywhere within the City of Los Angeles,'' the LAPD said.
Police requested the assistance of the Department of Children and Family Services during the operation because investigators believed there would be children at the raid locations who were possibly subjected to neglect and/or abuse by suspects under investigation. A total of 20 children were assessed and three investigations involving nine children were initiated, but no children were immediately removed, police said.